June Marie Kerr Collins was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on 09/27/1927 and raised in Toronto where she graduated from business college before moving to Winnipeg and California. After extensive travel in many states, Asheville became home in 1953 where she remained until her death on 06/28/2019.
She was beautiful and always creative as she loved to sing, write and do needlework. After a dozen lessons on mixing paint, she taught herself to do oil painting and had several one person shows including one at the Asheville Art Museum. She found joy in painting portraits for friends and generously sharing what she'd learned with anyone who wanted to come to her home and give painting a try. She was also working on a book about her life. She was a hopeless romantic who loved Bing Crosby's crooning, old movies and all things Hawaiian.
She was employed by the Battery Park Hotel, a number of photographers to tint sepia photos, Asheville School as assistant to the Headmaster, and WLOS Radio and WFGW where she did copy and performed in advertisements. She especially loved her decade at WLOS where she served in the Old Guard.
She was born an only child with a birth defect that led to a life that always included pain and many hip surgeries. She spent months in the hospital over many years of her life. With hips out of the sockets, she managed to work, buy a home on her own, fix it up and support and care for her mother and child until she could no longer physically make it up the three flights of stairs to WLOS Radio. More successful surgeries were to come in Canada and at Duke, but hips have a shelf life and she needed to replace one that had worn out. Unfortunately, the last surgeon here paralyzed her leg which forced her to wear a heavy brace and become a regular patient at Mission Wound Care for the last 16 painful years. She also began to lose her sight the same year, so she would no longer be able to drive, walk or paint. Accustomed to a life of challenges, as always, she adapted and she never gave up. She was strong, fiercely independent, tenacious and forward thinking. The silver lining was interacting with the medical teams, caretakers and family friends who helped with her care and went on to become so dear to her. To be called "friend" by June was really something special.
She was a young old person. She remained interested in current events and never missed a chance to vote. In spite of her pain and challenges, she loved life and loved to laugh. She always thought her tomorrows were worth the struggles of her todays.
Although she had many needs herself, she valued helping others. She had served on the board of the Humane Society and volunteered for 15 years at the American Red Cross, corresponded with shut-ins and had been a comfort to those in need. She beckoned the woodland creatures to come daily and they filled her yard and surrounded her wheelchair as this gentle person fed them. She was articulate and spoke up for all creatures great and small.
Her greatest love was her family. She was a great daughter and a wonderful, devoted Mom. She was thrilled with her grandchildren and went to see all of their plays, programs and band concerts. She loved being Mimi and spent as much time as she could with her beloved Alex and Chrissy. She also loved her son-in-law, Trey, whose devoted care added years to her life and she was happy to welcome Dan as her grandson.
She was very much a part of the greatest generation. Her impeccable character, can do attitude, indomitable spirit and strong faith inspired and earned the respect of those who knew her up until the day she died.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Doris Firminger Kerr and Cecil Laing Kerr and her former husband, E. W. Collins, Jr.
She will live on in the hearts of her daughter, Carolyn Collins Tingle and husband Trey Tingle of Asheville, NC, grandchildren, Catherine "Alex" Blalock and husband Daniel of Knoxville, TN, and Christina Firminger Tingle of Ann Arbor, MI, and her beloved friends.
A Service of Witness to the Resurrection and the celebration of a life well lived will be held on Saturday, September 28, at 2 pm at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church with Rev. Samantha Gonzalez-Block and Rev. Dr. Richard Coble officiating. The family will receive friends immediately following the service.
In lieu of flowers, a donation to Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, Four Seasons Hospice, Aston Park Healthcare Employee Fund or Asheville Humane Society would be greatly appreciated.
To send flowers
to the family or plant a tree
in memory of June Marie (Kerr) Collins, please visit our floral store.